I’m not Canadian. Can immigration officials detain me?

2. Find out your rights if you’re detained

If you're detained you have a right to:

  • know the reason(s) for your detention,
  • use an interpreter,
  • talk to a lawyer or other legal representative,
  • receive medical attention,
  • practice your religion, and
  • contact a representative of your country's embassy or consulate. Speak to a lawyer first if you're afraid of your government and want to make a refugee claim.

If you have any complaints about the conditions of your detention, speak to a member of the Red Cross Monitoring Committee. The Committee regularly visits detention centres to check on conditions.

If you're being held in Toronto at the Immigration Holding Centre, you can call the Toronto Refugee Affairs Council (TRAC) at 416-401-8537 to ask for help getting legal information, contacting relatives or CBSA, or other needs.

Get legal help

You have the right to be represented by a lawyer, paralegal, or registered consultant at your detention review. This includes the right to meet or speak with that person before the review. Once you have asked to speak to a representative, you should not be asked to sign any documents or answer any more questions.

Try to get legal help as soon as possible. While you can represent yourself at your detention review hearing, a legal representative can help you understand what options you might have to stay in Canada and how to create a good plan for your release from detention.

Staff from Legal Aid Ontario's Refugee Law Office regularly go to Immigration Detention Centres in the Toronto area. They can provide legal advice by phone and might be able to represent you at your detention review if you meet their eligibility criteria. Or they can refer you to a lawyer who can represent you using a , if you qualify. To contact the Refugee Law Office, you can call collect at 416-977-8111 or toll-free at 1-855-854-8111.

It can be hard to find a lawyer or legal representative while you're in detention. You might need friends or family to make calls for you. You can also ask someone at the detention centre to help you, like a social worker or chaplain.

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